Want the best small car that money can buy? Two words Volkwagen Golf.
The 2.5 in-line five-cylinder has been replaced with a smoother 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 170hp. We love this engine because it's smooth and quite flexible thanks to high torque at low revs. What we loathe the most is that despite there being a manual gearbox option, it only comes with five gears while the DSG has six gears and it feels way more responsive. We have been able to test drive both and we'd choose the DSG.
The Golf won't disappoint at all when you take it on the road. Steering feedback is excellent and communicative. Handling is also a strong point too. It may not be as sharp as a GTI but most will be satisfied with its road holding manners. The ride comfort is the biggest compliment here. It feels like a much bigger vehicle and soaks up bumps very well. Some keen rivals can't even match the level of refinement the Golf has. With each generation it feels like Volkswagen pushes the enevlope even further.
Road and wind noise are so well suppressed you'd think you were in a luxury vehicle. There's barely any noise from the suspension over bumps and the engines are smooth and quite once at speed. The diesel produces a little clatter at idle, but this is expected from a diesel engine.
Interior quality has been improved dramatically from the previous generation. Many of the materials used feel upscale and soft touch. The dashboard is very user friendly and easy to navigate. With the optional touch screen display many of the menus are easy to navigate through and not distracting. Passengers will find comfort in both the front and rear, although the large transmission tunnel makes life for the middle man uncomfortable.
The two-door trim has been discontinued as well as the SEL trim. The standard S trim comes with plenty of kit standard. Rearview parking camera, Bluetooth connectivity and keyless entry are standard. You'll have to step up to the Wolfsburg trim adds leatherette seating surfaces, keyless ignition switch and blind spot monitoring system. We love how despite there being less trims to choose from, both trims come highly kitted and won't disappoint.
The Golf has always been a level higher than it's keen rivals and this is no exception with this new generation. Everything feels solid and long lasting. Reliability isn't the strongest point for Volkswagen but we can say that they have been improving dramatically over the years. So there should be no worry in this area.
The Volkswagen Golf is really a jack of all trade. It's a classy and pratical vehicle that proves you don't need a large vehicle to have luxury and refinement. Driving dynamics are spot on and the engine choices are both excellent. Combined with Volkswagen excellent engineering and build quality. It's no wonder we gave the Golf our top pick for small cars. It's just that good.
Likes: It's all the car you'll ever need. It's engaging to drive, classy and well put together. Both engines are flexible and smooth.
Dislikes: No more SEL trim, TDI engine or two-door option. We wish that VW offered the 1.4-turbo engine from the Jetta in the Golf.
Devon's Pick: The 4-door Wolfsburg trim level makes the most sense finacially with the Golf. Alloy wheels, leatherette seating surfaces come standard as well as air-con, cd player and remote keyless entry. If you're looking for the best deal on the Golf look no further.